The St. Clair Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night made the recommendation to approve a medical marijuana ordinance addressing dispensaries and growing facilities.

City Administrator Travis Dierker presented the draft ordinance to the commission at a special meeting May 28, which includes how many feet a medical marijuana dispensary and a cultivation facility can be located from schools, child day cares and churches, as well as hours of operation and other requirements.

There was no action taken May 28, but during Monday’s meeting the commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval of the ordinance. Commissioner Doug Komo was absent from the meeting.

According to the proposed ordinance, a dispensary is a storefront where marijuana products are sold, and a cultivation facility is where marijuana plants are grown and where marijuana-infused products are made. The ordinance must be approved by the board of aldermen.

The commission set the distance between a school, day care or church and a dispensary, as well as a cultivation facility, at 750 feet. Zoning districts where dispensaries would be allowed in are C2 general commercial and C3 shopping centers, according to the ordinance.

Cultivation facilities and marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities would be zoned I-1 light/heavy industrial manufacturing. Hours of operation for sales or distribution of medical marijuana and other products sold to the public through a dispensary would take place between 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, according to the proposed ordinance.

A public hearing on the ordinance took place before the meeting. Planning commission member Greg Talleur asked why the dispensaries are being allowed open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Because they could be considered a high traffic facility comparable to a fast-food restaurant and those are allowed to be open until 1 a.m.,” Dierker said.

He added that Walgreens pharmacies are open 24 hours. Chairman Darin Slater said if the times changed for only the dispensaries, it could cause unduly burdensome. An audience member asked a question about security at a dispensary during early morning hours.

“Security isn’t really anymore necessary at this dispensary than it is at Walgreens in my opinion,” Viehland said.

He mentioned that someone wanting to use marijuana for other purposes is not going to go to a medical dispensary.

“These people who are using this facility have permission from a doctor to do so. A person who wants to use it for recreational, isn’t going to go here. He’s going to go to the thug down the street,” Viehland said. “We can’t control that other than policing.”

He added that more security will be required at growing facilities through the state ordinance.

“I see this, myself, as a starting point for recreational use in Missouri,” Viehland said.

Talleur agreed with Viehland and added, “(It) doesn’t matter if you have a prescription or not, I think you’re opening up the door for increasing illegal activity.”

The medical marijuana ordinance will go before the board of aldermen at the Monday, June 17 meeting.